- Fraudsters took out a £7,500 loan within minutes of obtaining the victim’s bank details
- Following similar reports, TransPennine Express has removed QR codes from car parks
- Have you fallen victim to a QR code scam? Email firstname.lastname@example.org
A gang of fraudsters using a fake QR code in a station car park defrauded a pensioner of £13,000.
The 71-year-old was the victim of a scam that involved concealing the real code on a car park sign at Thornaby station in Teeside.
After scanning the fake code, the woman was redirected to a website that collected the payment and card details.
Although the transactions were initially blocked by her bank, the victim was convinced by a phone call from fraudsters pretending to be bank employees and within minutes he took out a £7,500 loan.
Train operator TransPennine Express stopped using QR codes in station car parks from September following reports of similar scams across the country.
A gang of fraudsters using a fake QR code in a station car park defrauded a pensioner of £13,000
The 71-year-old was the victim of a scam in which she disguised the real code on a car park sign at Thornaby station in Teeside, which, when scanned, led to a website that took her card details
In addition to stealing the money, the fraudsters changed the pensioner’s bank details, including her address, ordered new cards and even opened an online account, the BBC reported.
The unnamed victim stated that he had never used a QR code before and would not do so again, and described several “sleepless nights” as he spoke to his bank on the phone in an attempt to stop the fraud.
VirginMoney said all transactions had already been refunded and the loan cancelled, and added that it had taken steps to protect the woman’s account in the future.
In the last three years alone, Action Fraud has investigated around 1,200 fake QR code scams.
What are QR codes?
Passenger scanning QR code to buy train ticket
QR codes, short for Quick Response, are black and white squares that can be scanned by mobile devices to quickly take you to a website or link.
They were invented in 1994 by a Japanese company producing automotive products.
QR codes are used in a variety of settings to enable quick payments, such as parking lots.
They are also increasingly used in advertising, such as on billboards and bus stops to quickly direct potential customers to websites, and in transport, such as mobile boarding passes and train tickets.
Their use has become increasingly widespread in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic as a way to reduce physical contact, for example replacing traditional printed menus and bills in restaurants, and primarily as part of the government’s contact tracing program.
However, the effectiveness of QR codes has also led to them being used by criminals as a tool for phishing and stealing personal information.